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04/19/2007


Philadelphia Dedicates Street to Pioneering Gay Rights Activist Barbara Gittings

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Philadelphia dedicated a street to gay rights pioneer Barbara Gittings today, at Locust Street between 12th and 13th streets, in the heart of the city's LGBT neighborhood.

GittingsWrites Bruce Yelk from the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp, who also sends these photos from today's dedication ceremony:

Known as the Mother of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement, Gittings (July 31, 1932 – February 18, 2007) resided in Philadelphia. She was the editor of the first lesbian publication. With Frank Kameny, she organized the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which launched the LGBT civil rights movement.

Gittings spearheaded the successful initiative to have the American Library Association include gay and lesbian books in the nation’s card catalogues and libraries. Kameny and Gittings challenged the American Psychiatric Association, resulting in homosexuality being removed from the list of mental illnesses.

In 2010, Kameny had a street dedicated to him in Washington, D.C.

The Giitings dedication kicks off Equality Forum's LGBT History Month.

Collaborating organizations on the street dedication include Delaware Valley Legacy Fund, Equality PA, Independence Business Alliance, Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus, and William Way LGBT Community Center.

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NY Public Library Acquires Barbara Gittings Archives

road.jpg The New York Public Library has acquired a set of important gay rights documents from the estate of the late Barbara Gittings and her partner Kay Lahusen:

Gittings"Gittings’s papers document her activities on behalf of gay and lesbian rights from 1958, when she founded the East Coast chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first national lesbian organization. Her writings influenced the American Psychiatric Association’s December 1973 removal of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. As a longtime leader of the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force (now the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table), Gittings was influential in developing programs to highlight the availability of gay materials for use in libraries. She was awarded an ALA honorary membership in 2003. Lahusen’s extensive photographic collection includes images of early protesters, portraits of prominent lesbians, and photos chronicling gay activism through 2005. 'Barbara and I always wanted our papers and photographs to be cared for and made available in a secure, world-class repository,' Lahusen said. 'And we wanted our letters and photos to be surrounded by those of friends and colleagues in the cause. The New York Public Library’s marvelous archive division was the obvious choice.'"

Gittings died in February after a battle with breast cancer.


News: Tonya Harding, Pizza, Barbara Gittings, Genetics

road.jpg Statements by Baptist minister Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. that if a biological basis for homosexuality were proven then prenatal treatment to reverse gay orientation would be biblically justified have inspired criticism from the right and left. Harry Knox, HRC: "He's willing to play God. He's more than willing to let homophobia take over and be the determinant of how he responds to this issue, in spite of everything else he believes about not tinkering with the unborn."

Gittings_2road.jpg Better late than never? Nearly a month after her death, the NYT publishes pioneering gay activist Barbara Gittings' obituary. Perhaps they heard the cries of Larry Kramer.

road.jpg New York magazine has a few questions for photographer Patrick McMullan.

road.jpg Activists, law students in Maine lobby for changes to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

Seacrestroad.jpg Ryan Seacrest works it out.

road.jpg Supporters outnumber opponents at New Hampshire gay marriage hearing.

road.jpg The lawyer for Magdaleno Olmos, the former assistant production accountant on American Idol who recently accused former contestant Mario Vazquez of propositioning him, speaks out about his client's claim that he was fired from the show for reporting the incident. Lawyer Matt Matern: "I believe it (Vazquez's departure) was not voluntary in any way shape or form. There were meetings held on that same day with the executives Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, with my client and with the attorneys for ‘American Idol.' They asked my client what had happened. Then I believe they interviewed Mr. Vazquez that same day, brought my client back in for a second interview and [I'm told], Nigel Lythgoe, put his arm around my client and said, ‘we know that this happened and we are going to let Mario Vazquez go, and you're going to stay.'"

Tonya_hardingroad.jpg Tweaked out Tonya Harding calls cops after having visions of animals.

road.jpg Filmmaker John Waters has a Christmastime kids movie in the works entitled Fruitcake.

road.jpg Congressman spearheading repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" announces he may be leaving office to become Chancellor of UMASS Lowell.

road.jpg Is Jim McGreevey ready to become a gay activist?

road.jpg New York restaurant presents the $1,000 pizza.


Barbara Gittings, a Force in Gay Rights, Dies at 75

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The gay rights movement has lost one of its heroes. Pioneering activist Barbara Gittings died on Sunday after a battle with breast cancer. She was 75. Gittings fought tirelessly thoughout her life to advance the rights of gays and lesbians.

Barbara_gittings_2_1She was an early member of one of the earliest lesbian rights organizations, the Daughters of Bilitis (named for a French poet's fictional contemporary of Sappho), and helped organize, and picketed in the first gay rights demonstrations outside the White House and Philadelphia's Independence Hall in 1965.

The Daughters of Bilitis was formed in 1955 as a response to the raids on then-illegal lesbian bars, and it was in this group that Gittings met her partner Kay Lahausen (above right).

The group published a "lesbian review" called The Ladder.

The 1965 march (in which Gittings marches in the photo proudly holding a sign that reads "Homosexuals should be treated as individuals") is seen by many as the birth (pre-Stonewall, mind you) of the modern gay rights movement.

She was a leader for many years of the American Library Association Gay Task Force and pushed hard for the inclusion of gay content in libraries, and in 2003, the association recognized her with its highest honor.

Gittings was also a major force in the campaign to get the American Psychiatric Association to drop homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, which it did in 1973.

For those interested in learning more about Gittings (as well a four other important gay rights heroes), she's profiled in the excellent 1998 Jeff Dupre documentary Out of the Past: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America.

She will be missed.

Out of the Past [pbs]


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